The Nationalist Party has filed a formal complaint against TVM journalist Glen Falzon over the questions he chose to ask Opposition leader Bernard Grech during a recent interview.
In a complaint to PBS and the Broadcasting Authority, secretary general Francis Zammit Dimech claimed that Falzon’s questions and “behaviour” were clearly inspired and based on the Labour Party’s “partisan narrative” against Grech and the PN.
“His treatment of the Opposition leader was clear from the start, repeatedly asking him the same questions, even after they were answered clearly,” he wrote. “He didn’t act the same when he interviewed the Prime Minister a week earlier.”
“Rather than verifying the facts, as any serious journalist, but particularly those employed with the national broadcaster, should do, he made use of partisan and factually incorrect stories broadcast by the PL media and asked about them as though they were factual.”
“The Opposition has no problem fielding tough questions from journalists, but it’s blatantly obvious that the presenter treated the Prime Minister with kids’ gloves and the Opposition leader with an iron fist.”
“This is breach of the national broadcaster’s obligation to present discussions in an objective manner and for presenters to provide precise information.”
Grech adopted a confrontational stance during his interview on Falzon’s show Insights last week, repeatedly accusing the journalist of following the PL’s political narrative in his choice of questions.
Questions which irked Grech included those related to reports of disquiet among his MPs at his recent Shadow Cabinet reshuffle, an opinion piece by Times of Malta columnist Kristina Chetcuti, and his plan for Air Malta.
The Opposition leader criticised Falzon at a political activity last Sunday, saying it felt like he was being interviewed by a party-owned media house.
In its attempt to prove Falzon’s lack of impartiality, the PN referred to a number of “discrepancies” between his interview with Grech and his interview with Robert Abela a week earlier.
“His first question to the Prime Minister was intended for him to boast, to talk what he did, and to make people sympathise with him, while his first question to the Opposition leader was an extremely confrontational one.”
Falzon’s first question to Grech was whether he blames people for thinking his hands are tied in light of reports of a fiery Shadow Cabinet reshuffle.
“When interviewing the Prime Minister, [Falzon] said things like ‘I hear you talking about vulnerable people and I know how close they are to your heart’…” the PN went on.
“On the other hand, he chose to act in a confrontational manner with the Opposition leader.”
“With regards to Air Malta, Falzon asked the Prime Minister about how much state aid he requested and even suggested words like ‘viable’ for him to use. When interviewing the Opposition leader, he asked him what plans he has for Air Malta.”
“He told the Prime Minister ‘We’re talking about wealth, the economy, finances…’ but then asked the Opposition leader about someone else’s opinion piece.”
“This means that the national broadcaster acted discriminatorily and in a prejudiced manner against the Opposition leader. TVM created a situation of a lack of impartiality and a misbalance against the PN and we’re asking for a remedy as required by law.”
What do you make of the PN’s complaint?